TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And Happy New Year. Have you started to accomplish those New Year resolutions for your home? If not, pick up the phone; we’ll help you take that all-important first step at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. If not, let’s talk about some projects that maybe you’d like to get done in the coming months. Maybe you’re thinking ahead to spring. Now you pretty much, at this point, have probably had enough of winter and maybe you want to think about some warm-weather stuff. Let’s talk about how to get the research done now so you can get it done quickly and easily in the spring, 888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, coming up on today’s program, is your kitchen backsplash falling behind the times? We’ve got some tips on backsplash designs and materials that are up and coming. They’re also affordable and fun.
LESLIE: And they might still struggle with social media but don’t underestimate those baby boomers. We’re going to share with you some surprise additions that they’re making to their homes.
TOM: And here’s an idea that we can all toast to: DIY wine cellars. We’ve got tips for creating one in your space.
LESLIE: And we’ve got answers to your home improvement questions big and small.
TOM: So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Katherine in Wisconsin is on the line with a soundproofing issue. Tell us what’s going on.
KATHERINE: I live in a condo with a basement and there’s an I-beam that runs through the basement. And when I’m in the basement, I can hear my neighbors from two houses down talking in their living room, because their voices travel down the I-beam.
KATHERINE: So I was – yeah. So I was interested in covering the I-beam somehow to reduce the noise but I wasn’t sure what the best way to do that would be.
TOM: Well, there’s a couple things you can do. First of all, can you frame in the I-beam so that it’s – like has something that we can attach a drywall to?
KATHERINE: Yeah, yeah, I could. I just wasn’t sure what to do that with or if that would help.
TOM: OK. So once you – yeah, once you frame it in, there’s a product called QuietRock.
TOM: And it’s a soundproofing drywall. It’s sold at Lowe’s. It’s pretty expensive. Regular drywall is 5 bucks a sheet; QuietRock is about 40 bucks a sheet. So it’s pretty expensive but you don’t need a lot.
LESLIE: Yeah. But if she can hear them, they can hear her.
TOM: Yeah. But you don’t need a lot. You don’t need a lot. So, if you can frame-in that beam and you’re sure that’s where it’s coming from, you may want to think about using QuietRocks to actually cover the I-beam and that should do the trick.
KATHERINE: Oh, really? So I wouldn’t need to put additional insulation between the …
TOM: No. Insulation is – insulation doesn’t really work as a soundproofing material.
KATHERINE: OK, OK.
TOM: It’s kind of a misnomer to think that insulation works on a wall. It’s cheap but it really doesn’t do much. The QuietRock absorbs the vibration of the sound and I think that’s what you need to do.
KATHERINE: OK, great. And the QuietRock is just spelled like it sounds?
TOM: Yep. Q-u-i-e-t – Rock. If you go to Lowes.com, you can find it right there. And I was able to find it; I needed it for a project. I was able to find it right in my local Lowe’s.
KATHERINE: Thank you. Bye.
LESLIE: Corey in Kentucky, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
COREY: Yeah, I had a question about the house that I was looking at buying.
COREY: And it’s got a major problem with the second floor. It sags probably about 6 to 8 inches; it looks, literally, like a bowl on the second floor.
TOM: Wow. OK.
COREY: And yeah, it’s pretty bad; it’s really noticeable. And the house was built during the Civil War, so it’s an extremely old house. And it’s an old farmhouse.
TOM: Hmm. OK.
COREY: And just wondering, how extensive a repair would that be? The structural engineer said it’s fine but …
TOM: Yeah, it’s somewhere between nothing and tearing the house down. Does that sum it up for you? It’s really hard to tell …
LESLIE: Doesn’t make you feel better?
TOM: Yeah, until you really get into it.
TOM: A couple of things that you could do. First of all, Corey, have you had a professional home inspector or an engineer look at the house?
COREY: Yeah. I’m actually in the military and I had a – the Veterans Affairs actually had an inspector go out and look at it. And the structural engineer that inspected it said that it’s structurally sound because it was built with green wood but it shrank.
COREY: And he said it’s sound but if I ever wanted to resell the house, I’d have to make it better in order to be able to get what I paid for out of it.
TOM: Well, with all due respect to the military and the Veterans Affairs and the guy they sent out, I sincerely doubt he was a structural engineer. You may have – you may be calling him that but it would be unlikely that they would send out such a professional. They probably sent out a housing inspector who inspects everything, from homes that people are buying and need loans on to rentals.
I would strongly – underline strongly – recommend that you at least have a professional home inspector look at this. These are guys that look at homes every day and they really know how to sort the wheat from the chaff and figure out whether it’s a major problem or a minor problem. And if you’re really seriously interested about this place, the step above that is to consult with a structural engineer.
Now, with a problem like this, if you’re going to fix it – and it sounds like you are – it’s very important that you do it the right way. And that is that you work with an architect or an engineer to inspect the property, actually spec out the exact repair that needs to be done and then reinspect it after it’s completed and give you a letter to that effect so then now you sort of have a pedigree or proof that the problem was identified, evaluated and correctly repaired. And you have the word of a professional – a licensed professional – that’s certifying that.
This takes you out of the responsibility loop. You understand what I mean? If you just had a slopy floor and you say, “Well, I fixed it,” that doesn’t really mean as much as whether or not you had pros look at it, explain exactly how it should be fixed and then certify that it was done correctly. So, if you’re real serious about this, I would get another expert to look at it and look at the specific problem. It’ll be well worth the investment.
COREY: OK. Yeah, because the house is pretty cheap and I could definitely resell it for a higher value. So I was really looking into – it’s five acres of land and everything like that, so I was really wanting to get the house but I didn’t know if it was going to cost me way more to fix the house than it was to buy the house.
TOM: Yeah. And it’s definitely a cost-benefit analysis that has to be done. I would definitely recommend that you spend $350 or whatever it costs to get an inspection done.
If you go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors, it’s ASHI – A-S-H-I – .org. There’s a zip-code locator. You will find ASHI-certified members in your area. I would use that as the first list to call. And then work through that list and have a conversation with the inspectors until you find one that you really feel knows what he or she is doing and you’re comfortable. And then hire that person to evaluate the house.
COREY: OK. That sounds great.
TOM: Alright, Corey. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
COREY: Alright. Thank you.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, they might catch splashed food but they can make big splashes, too. We’ll have tips on the latest in kitchen-backsplash trends, when The Money Pit continues after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And hey, if you are shopping for windows now, you might have noticed a maze of confusing window-rating labels. Well, we’ve taken the time to decode those window-rating label systems and you can, too. Check out the story on our home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Deborah in Georgia is on the line with a laminate question. What can we do for you?
DEBORAH: I have some laminate floor covering that, unfortunately, some nail polish was spilled onto. It’s dried. It’s clear. But how can I get it up? Because you can see it at an angle but I’d really like for it to be gone.
TOM: Was there a story behind that accident?
DEBORAH: Yeah, my grandson picked up a bag and dropped it.
TOM: Bless his heart. Have you tried nail-polish remover?
DEBORAH: I was afraid to try it.
TOM: You know what? I have enough confidence in your laminate that I think that’s probably OK. But here’s what I would do. I would not soak it. I would put a little bit on a cotton ball or a little bit on a paper towel and then just work at it a little bit at a time.
TOM: But I bet you that’s probably the quickest way. That’s acetone. And that’s the quickest way, probably, to get that off of the floor.
DEBORAH: OK. Well, I didn’t know if the non-acetone nail polish might work even better. I don’t – I was afraid to try anything.
TOM: Yeah. Well, listen, if you’ve got a concern about it, what you could do is go to an area of the floor that’s not so visible, like maybe in a closet or underneath the kickboard or a piece of furniture, and just try a little bit right there. I suspect it won’t have any effect on it, because that stuff is pretty tough.
DEBORAH: Well, great. That’s wonderful. That’s the best news I’ve had.
TOM: Alright. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Joe in Rhode Island, what’s going on at your money pit?
JOE: I’ve got a Quietside boiler – tankless water tank and boiler – where you heat hot water? Recently, we’ve been having some issues. It’s throwing some codes. And we’ve called a few different plumbers and everyone seems to be reluctant to work on it, because they’ve got – company got bought out by Samsung. And it takes anywhere from 1 day to 30 days to get a part for it. So, all these plumbers that we’re having – we’ve been calling bigger companies, local contractors. And they – like I said, they’re all reluctant to work on it.
We’re in the idea of purchasing a new one but we want to stay within the same type of unit. But we’re also afraid of buying another unit like that and then have the company bought out or sold and we’re kind of stuck in the same position that we are now. The unit is about four years old. It’s got another year for warranty.
TOM: Well, I mean with this warranty, what do you do if you have to file a warranty claim? Is there a customer-service number for it or something of that nature?
JOE: Yes. There is a recall on it, too. I guess there are a couple of fuses that have to be replaced on it. This is all stuff – these are all things that have been brought to my attention within the past two weeks.
TOM: Well, have you taken it upon yourself to try to contact the company directly and see how they might process a warranty claim if it’s not working well?
JOE: Correct. I did and I’m waiting for a call back from them. They’re in California and we’re in little Rhode-y, so time differences and things like that. I did leave them a couple of voice-mails.
TOM: Well, I would start with that. They may, in fact, have contractors in the area that are willing to do this sort of work. I don’t think this is indicative of a problem with the – with all of the appliances – all of the tankless water-heater appliances. They’ve been around now – very popular – for over 10 years and they work very, very well.
There’s a couple of things that commonly go wrong with them. And the first one is usually the plumber that installs them, because they need a bigger gas line. And often, they don’t put the right-size gas line in and that causes the water heater to underperform. And then if you have hard water – because sort of the intestines of this thing have a long, circuitous route that the water has to follow. If it’s a – if you have a hard-water problem, those can get clogged up.
But other than that, they’ve been pretty darn reliable. So I would put some effort into seeing if you can make a claim under this warranty, Joe. And if you can’t and you decide to go with a new one, I think if you went with a Rinnai or a Rheem or another name brand like that, I don’t think you’re going to have this problem again.
Alright. Well, I think you have a plan now, Joe, so good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, kitchen backsplashes have been popular for a few years now but some very unexpected materials and looks are putting them front and center.
LESLIE: Yeah, like glass. Now, a glass backsplash can come in countless colors, shapes and designs. And they look as classic as they do trendy. Now, glass options are endless. You can go with those square tiles in expected colors or a full slab of glass that’s painted one shade.
TOM: And if you can believe it, vinyl-wallpaper backsplashes are also making a comeback and for a lot of good reasons. Vinyl is inexpensive, it’s easy to install and clean. And it comes in a variety of colors, patterns and textures, which makes it extra cool for the DIY crowd. Plus, if you get tired of it, it’s easy to change it out.
LESLIE: And if you like your food natural, you might like a natural backsplash, too. Everything from upcycled pallets to indigenous woods, they’re making appearances above kitchen counters, as well.
And customers with an eye for rustic design might prefer a natural wood-plank look or for a shabby-chic look, why not try beadboard in white or even a soft pastel?
TOM: Now, think about white-on-white subway tile. That’s been hot for a while. But you can give that look a twist by using colored grout. It’ll really make those tiles pop out. Gray grout, for example, on white tile is a sleek choice. But for an even trendier look, you can fill that space between the white tiles with a pop of color: anything from Tangerine to Electric Blue.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And spray-on chalkboard paint, that can give your backsplash a whole new function and lets you add and erase new designs as often as you like.
TOM: Or you can take a less common approach to stone backsplashes with river rock or pebble tiles. Hey, maybe even ones you collect yourself. But whether you go monochromatic or combine pebbles with wood and tile, this is one look you won’t forget.
888-666-3974. Hey, is a kitchen update on your to-do list? Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Brian in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BRIAN: Hi. Yeah, we have a house. It’s about a year-and-a-half old and it has a – in the upstairs, it has a game room/playroom area, you know? And got a two-year-old and a six-year-old and so trying to think of – trying to build – yeah.
LESLIE: And lots of stuff.
BRIAN: Lots of toys. So I’m trying to think of a seating area, bench, storage area. Suggestions? Ideas?
LESLIE: I mean you’re on the right track. I’ve done a ton of makeovers on $100 Makeover with a similar situation, where – small kids, lots of stuff, multi-function rooms. You want it to look good, you want it to be practical but you want to have a place for everything and everything in its place.
And if you’re a handy guy, you can easily make a storage bench and it could be something as simple as a framed-out box with one of those slowly-closing hinged tops to protect the kiddies’ fingers, either painting it or wrapping it in fabric, padding the top and wrapping just the top, veneering the bottom. It depends on your skill level. And there are ways to even modify existing pieces that you might have.
Maybe there is a bench or a piece of inexpensive furniture that you can find at one of those stores where you sort of put things together yourself. And you can add baskets underneath. It depends on what your skillset is and what kind of look you want for that space.
BRIAN: I saw on some show leaving it open using 2x4s or 2x6s – or would you suggest enclosing it?
LESLIE: I feel like leaving things open, only from my experience with my own son and people who I see how they live – if it’s closed up, it tends to be neater.
LESLIE: And you can frame something – build the box out of 2x4s, clad it with MDF, dress it up a little bit with 1x3, make it almost look like it’s paneled or something.
LESLIE: Give it some raised areas and recessed areas, if you even want to go that far. Up to you. You can add in a baseboard to just sort of dress up the bottom. Paint that. Everything looks beautiful in glossy white or glossy black or a great chocolate brown.
And then on the top, same thing: MDF top. You want to wrap it with some batting. Put some foam, wrap that in batting, wrap it with fabric, staple to the underside. And the key is the hinge; you have to get that hinge that slowly, slowly, slowly goes down. Because the kids are always going to get their hands in everything.
BRIAN: Now, we have a corner area, so should I just make it straight or should I make it like an L-shape or what?
LESLIE: I think an L-shape is really practical. And what you can do is on the ends – on both ends or just one – you can sort of then build out an additional area that maybe has some open shelving on both ends, to put some books.
BRIAN: Awesome. Looks like I’ve got a project to get started.
TOM: Sounds like you do.
LESLIE: It’s a good one.
BRIAN: Alright. Well, I appreciate it.
LESLIE: Eric in Alaska is on the line with an insulation question. Tell us about it.
ERIC: I have a crawlspace and I’m trying to figure out what – the best way to keep the temperature a bit warmer than it is down there and to keep my floors in the home from getting so cold. I’ve got hardwood – ceramic-tile floors.
ERIC: And my – all of my plumbing is in the crawlspace. My pressure tank is down there, so I need to keep the temperature somewhat warm down there so I don’t freeze my pipes up.
TOM: OK. How much insulation do you have in the floor above the crawlspace area now?
TOM: Is it completely – oh, you have none? Well, see, now there would be a good place to start, Eric.
ERIC: Right, right.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And that’s going to make a huge difference.
TOM: So, what you want to do there is if you have – let’s just say your floor joists are 2x10s, then you’re going to use 10 inches of insulation. You want to fill up that entire cavity with insulation. You can use unfaced fiberglass batts. The first place you insulate is the box joists – that’s around the outside perimeter – and then you work your way in to the floor joists.
TOM: You can use insulation hangers to hold it in place. And that’s going to make an enormous difference warming up that floor.
You may find that the crawlspace becomes a bit warmer as a result of that. Or you may find it becomes colder because now the heat from upstairs is not getting down there. Is there a concern of water pipes or anything like that freezing?
ERIC: Yeah, that’s what my concern is if I insulate the floor there. My pressure tank and all of my plumbing fixtures and drains are all down there.
TOM: You don’t have to worry about the drains freezing, OK? They’re never going to hold enough water to freeze and break. As far as the plumbing pipes are concerned, if you do have pipes that are below the insulation – if they’re in the insulation, you don’t have to worry about it. If they’re below the insulation, then you can insulate those themselves with insulation sleeves that just fit around them and get taped off.
So, insulate the pipes, insulate the floor joists and I think you’re going to find it’s a lot more comfortable as a result.
LESLIE: Still ahead, harnessing wind’s energy can save you big if you can afford the upfront cost. So are wind generators for you? We’ll share that and more when we come back.
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TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your do-it-yourself dilemma at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Laurie in Illinois is on the line with a mold question.
LAURIE: My husband and I think that there possibly might be some mold in our drywall or insulation in our home and we wondered the best way to check for that. We don’t have any airflow in our home, though.
TOM: What makes you think you have mold? Do you physically see it?
LAURIE: Well, we have an underground – part of our home is underground and there is a lot of moisture, it seems like, in the air. We’ve seen some mold on some items in our home. And we have some cold-like symptoms from time to time that we think might be caused from it.
LESLIE: It’s like allergies, you’re saying.
TOM: So it’s more of the effects of it that you’re concerned about.
TOM: And this is in the basement.
LAURIE: Yes. It’s in the part of the home that’s underground and I had read online that some of those mold test kits are unreliable that you buy in the store or mold inspections can be very costly. I just didn’t know the best choice there.
TOM: Well, the truth is that mold pretty much exists in every home and so we can always find mold. The question is whether or not this is causing a problem in your house.
What kind of floor do you have in that basement, Laurie?
LAURIE: It’s cement and then there’s carpet over that.
LESLIE: That’s a huge mold trap right there. If you were to get rid of that, you would notice. Even if there’s moisture management in a basement, we never recommend putting a carpet down on a concrete slab in a basement area, just because concrete’s hydroscopic. It pulls the moisture from the ground. That then gets into the carpet pad, the carpet itself. And then the dust gets in there and you’ve got a breeding ground for mold.
So if you were to get rid of that, put down laminate or tile, use some area rugs, you’re instantly going to notice a better respiratory situation, I think.
TOM: Well, exactly. Plus, carpet is a filter material, so that carpet can trap dust, dust mites and all sorts of other allergens. So there could be other things, Laurie, here that are causing the breathing issues.
So let’s just give you some general clean-air advice. First of all, as Leslie said, the carpet’s not a good idea. Secondly, you want to make sure that your basement remains as dry as possible. And the way you do that is by making sure the gutter system is clean, free-flowing and the downspout is discharging well away from the house itself.
Secondly, we may want to add some sort of a filtration system. Now, do you have forced air into that basement space?
LAURIE: We do not. We do have a dehumidifier that we run and we have some ceiling fans but not in every room or not in every area.
TOM: So, is it a hot-water heated house?
LAURIE: No, it’s electric.
TOM: It’s all electric?
TOM: OK. So what we would really like to see is some sort of a filtration system in there – a good-quality, portable air filter, electronic air cleaner perhaps – that will pull the dust and dust mites and anything else that is of allergen basis out of that basement space. So a portable air cleaner could be a good addition.
But I suspect, from everything that you’ve told us, reducing dampness and removing the carpet will make that space a lot more comfortable.
LAURIE: Excellent. Thank you so much. That gives me some great ideas.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project, Laurie, and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LAURIE: Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Coming up, empty nests are getting some new, shiny and high-tech touches. Find out what retirees and baby boomers are adding to their homes, when The Money Pit continues.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, radiant heat in your floors sounds like a pretty great idea this time of year. But is it a realistic option for your home? Learn what to ask before even thinking about adding it, on our home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Mike in Illinois is on the line. How can we help you today?
MIKE: I have a – the drywall through the center of my house is separating at the seams.
MIKE: And it’s straight through the center of the house, down the hallway through the center of the house. And I’m not sure if it’s due to moisture in the attic, drying out and expanding or if it’s the floor in the house moving.
TOM: Mike, how old is your house?
MIKE: I’d say 20 years old.
TOM: OK. And is this relatively new or has it been around for a while?
MIKE: It’s been there shortly after I moved in.
TOM: Oh, so it’s been there like 20 years.
TOM: Yeah, I think it’s probably shrinkage. When a house is first built, the lumber is very wet and over the first couple of heating seasons, it tends to shrink a lot and you’ll get a lot of movement. Now, over the years, you may have tried to patch it and then you just find that it opens up again. That’s very typical.
TOM: What you want to do to patch it is you need to sand it down where it’s cracking. You need to use new drywall tape on top of that. You can use the perforated tape. It’s easier to work with, in terms of the spackle, because you don’t have to worry about air bubbles behind the paper tape. Use the perforated tape, put about three layers of spackle on there, sand in between, prime, paint. You should be good to go.
MIKE: OK. If I have bathroom vents that are venting out into the attic, would that cause it or would that cure it if I …?
TOM: No, I don’t think – well, first of all, I don’t think it’s caused that but that in and of itself is a problem. You shouldn’t be ducting bathroom exhaust fans into an attic; they should continue through the attic to the exterior.
And the reason for that – you’re in the Chicago area, correct? Pretty cold there. And if you get that insulation damp, it’s not going to be very effective.
MIKE: OK. So, with it venting in there, that’s decreasing my R-value of my insulation, too.
TOM: It is. R-value is rated at 0-percent moisture. So when you add moisture to it, it goes down dramatically. So, the more moisture in the attic, the less effective the insulation becomes.
MIKE: OK. To fix that, would it be alright to add insulation on top of that after I fix that problem?
TOM: Yeah, you can add more insulation but you have to duct from the exhaust fan out of the attic. So, you can do that by going like sort of through the gable wall or up through a roof vent with a proper termination on the end of it so no water gets in there. And just get that warm, moist air out. Don’t leave it in the attic.
MIKE: OK. And I’ve done some research on the internet. I’ve got two bathroom fans. To run them into the one, they said to find a wire or a vent that’ll flip one side to the other so it doesn’t backdraft into the other bathroom. I cannot find that.
TOM: Well, I don’t think you really need that because, for example, if you run it to the gable wall and you have a typical bath-duct terminating type of a hood on it, that’s got a spring on it that stays shut. So it’s only going to open when the air is blowing out.
There’s another way to do this and that is to have a remote bath fan where they actually have the motor part that’s up in the attic space and the ducts just connect to the ceiling of the bathrooms. But that’s a nice system – it’s a quiet system – but it’s much more expensive to do. You see that a lot in hotels.
MIKE: OK. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: Well, every new chapter of life brings new priorities and nowhere is that truer than in the design of your home. And nowhere is it more obvious than with America’s biggest demographic: baby boomers.
LESLIE: Now, roughly 10,000 baby boomers – the Americans born between 1946 and 1964 – become eligible for retirement every single day. And as they step away from full-time careers, many are taking steps towards updating their homes.
TOM: Now, boomers are driving a trend towards aging-in-place features. Grab bars, taller toilets and pull-out drawers and shelves are becoming pretty commonplace as more and more Americans try to stay in their homes for as long as possible.
LESLIE: And boomers are also going for open-layout homes and better transitions between the indoors and outdoors. So think breezeways and patios and porches.
TOM: And while Mom or Granddad still might struggle with video-chatting, don’t underestimate their technical know-how. A growing number are adding convenience, value and safety with smart-home technology that makes aging easier. Smart-home features can also be automated to remember things that older homeowners might forget, like closing windows and turning off lights. So no matter how you look at it, boomers are still driving lots of style and innovation in our homes.
888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Kelly in South Dakota is on the line and needs help with a cleaning question. Tell us what’s going on.
KELLY: Hi. We have a stain on our breezeway cement. Seems like an oil stain and we just are having a lot of trouble getting that up. Do you have like a professional formula?
TOM: Where’s the floor and why do you need to get the oil stain on the cement? Oh, wait. Is it in the garage or where?
KELLY: No, it’s in our breezeway. We have – in between the – it’s an enclosed breezeway. It’s kind of decorated and we use it.
TOM: I see. So it’s a finished space, yeah.
Well, what I would do is I would consider painting that cement floor. I would use an epoxy paint. I would use a two-part epoxy paint, which you mix up and has a chemical cure. There’s going to be a degreaser that’s part of the process that preps the surface. And so you clean it with a degreaser first.
And I assume we’re talking about an old stain here, nothing that’s soppy and oily.
KELLY: Mm-hmm. No, no.
TOM: But you hit it with the degreaser first, let it dry. And then you use the epoxy paint and you’ll get a nice, clean finish. And you’ll find that it’s going to be a lot easier to sweep and keep nice and tidy, too, with the epoxy paint. Not terribly expensive, not complicated and it will clearly solve the issue.
KELLY: Will it be slippery if it gets wet?
TOM: No, absolutely not.
KELLY: OK. Well, that sounds great.
TOM: Alright? Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading out to Massachusetts where Bob needs some help putting a floor down in the attic. Tell us what you’re working on.
BOB: It’s a very large attic and it’s – I’ve got uncovered floor rafters. And I’ve got 35 years of stuff accumulated in that attic that I want to get rid of, alright? The problem is that the rafters are open and I want to know what to do to cover the rafters.
TOM: OK. So, first of all, if you’re – when you say “rafters,” I think you mean the floor joists. When you go up in the attic and you look down at the floor, is that what you’re talking about?
BOB: That is absolutely right, yes.
TOM: OK. So, those are the ceiling joists that are holding up your ceiling below and the floor joists if you are up in the attic and call it that, as well.
Now, you have insulation in those joists right now, correct?
BOB: That is correct.
TOM: And it’s 35 years old, so it’s – and you’ve had a lot of storage, so it’s probably sagged and compressed and perhaps pressed down. Is that fair to say?
BOB: That is also correct.
LESLIE: He’s like, “Tom, are you in my attic?”
TOM: We’re setting it up here, yeah.
Here’s what I’d do. First of all, get rid of all the storage. You know, go ahead and do that big purge. And it’s a big project. I mean I had to do this because we sprayed Icynene foam insulation in my house. And I’ve got to tell you, my attic – and I live in a family house. That attic, literally, hadn’t been emptied in generations. So, when we got that attic emptied, my first floor looked like an episode of Hoarders. We had stuff everywhere because those attics are big and they held a lot of stuff. But it was a good opportunity to purge it out and get rid of the stuff you don’t want.
But now that you’ve done that, what I would do is if you want to go back with a fiberglass insulation, I would take out the old insulation. If it’s been in there that long, it’s probably compressed and not really doing its job. And I would fill in that floor joist, all the way to the top, with unfaced fiberglass insulation. Now, even if you do that, chances are, depending on the depth of those joists, you’re probably not going to get more than 8 or 10 inches which, honestly, is not enough insulation to really do a good job in a cold area like where you live.
You really need 15 to 20 inches of insulation. So if you do a really good job with getting rid of all that storage that now you need less storage space, what I would tell you to do is to double up the insulation towards the outside walls and sort of carve out an area close to the opening where you could reserve that for insulation and put the flooring, only, there. So just put the flooring and have 8 inches or 10 inches of insulation underneath it. But then in the rest of the attic, you want to double up the insulation, putting insulation perpendicular to the floor joist and inside of the floor joist at the same time. And that would really build it up.
And I’ve got to tell you, if you spend the amount of about one month’s cold-weather heating bill on insulation, you will see a dramatic savings for every month thereafter.
BOB: Well, I think I’ve got it now to sound like an expert. Now let’s see if I can work like an expert.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, here’s an idea we can toast to: an at-home wine cellar at a DIY price. We’re going to share some tips for creating your own wine-storage chamber from existing space, when we return.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, you might be tempted to spend it under a warm blanket but January is the perfect month for fixing indoor problems that plague many homes. Learn what they are and how to fix them with January home improvement weekend projects. That list is on our home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, you can post your question to the Community section. And Stacy writes: “I hear a lot of pros and cons to wind generators. What’s the truth? Is there a wind generator that works and pays for itself over time without costing thousands of dollars?”
TOM: Well, Stacy, the answer is it depends. And that’s because it really depends on a lot. It depends on where you live and how much wind you have in that area. It depends not only on the initial cost but on also what rebates might be available from state or local governments. And even if the answers to the first two questions are positive, it also depends on whether the local government will allow you to have a wind generator on your property without triggering any crazy zoning variances that can cost thousands to resolve.
Now, all that said, I have seen wind generators that cost less than 10 grand and can be easily added to virtually any roof structure. But I would encourage you that before you consider doing something as sort of far out as adding a wind generator, that you make sure all the energy-saving basics are covered at your home.
For example, do you have 15 to 20 inches of insulation in your attic? If you don’t, that ought to be your first project. Let’s do the little things that add up big before we choose a big thing that might not add up at all.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And wind generators are fairly large, Stacy. Tom is right: you really have to make sure that you’re doing all of the more cost-effective things that really can add up and make a huge difference. So, hopefully you’ll get on that and have a much, much warmer and cost-effective winter.
TOM: Well, it’s a scene you’ve seen in the movies: a homeowner impressing friends with a tour of their very own wine cellar. Well, wine cellars are no longer just for a chosen few. More and more people are converting at-home spaces into functional ambient storage for their reds, whites, bubblies and blends. It’s an idea that goes down easy and Leslie has got tips for doing it in your space, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, who doesn’t want a wine cellar, guys?
Well, now, any space in your home can actually be converted into a wine cellar. But an unfinished basement is best, for a few reasons.
First of all, if you want to properly preserve your wine, your storage space should not be in direct sunlight. Unfinished basements also have that built-in climate control. You know, they’re going to keep the space cool. It’s got damp air in, outside air out. The ideal temperature for wine is around 57 degrees Fahrenheit with 55- to 60-percent humidity and temperatures that are easy to achieve in most underground spaces, so that’s a great spot to start. Now, you want to create a vapor barrier for the room with plastic sheeting and then spray-foam insulation, either/or.
Next, think about adding storage for your collection. You want to consider a wine rack that’s made of maybe mahogany, because that’s going to thrive in cool, damp environments and it’s not going to warp. You might even want to incorporate a tasting area, with a countertop or tables and chairs. It’ll ensure that you do more than just walk in, grab a bottle and leave. And mahogany is really going to be the best choice for your furniture, as well.
And finally, you’re going to need some light to see your way around but also to add that perfect wine-cellar ambiance. Now, LED or incandescent lighting are ideal because neither emits additional heat. And stylish, recessed cans can actually help you shed light, literally, on your most prized vintages and labels. And then go ahead and fill up your wine cellar and enjoy. You’ll be like hosting the parties left and right on your block.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, nothing says “upscale kitchen” more than a pro-style range. But can your home handle one of these brawny beauties? What you need to know about commercial ranges is coming up on the next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself ...
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2015 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)